Folks, it is often said that a bitter heart eats its owner. No doubt about it. Former President Jerry John Rawlings characterizes such an owner of a bitter heart that has been eating him away for a greater part of his life on this wretched and sickened earth. No one needs anything more than his own utterances and whatever else constitutes his element as proof.
He has been so for decades, beginning in the 1960’s and passing through the years thereafter to date.
His latest verbal attacks on former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama confirm that there is a lot wrong with him, which we will examine here. But we will first trace the course of his bitter heart and place everything in context.
Psychologists will have a hard time placing the cause of the bitterness that Rawlings has harboured for decades. But in the end, everything will likely boil down to his make-up and his avid quest for political power, dominance, and the benefits therefrom. Denied the elbow room, he bursts out. Poor soul.
Let me offer some insights. Rawlings began plotting to be in power in early 1972 when he was consumed with a terrible hatred for the Acheampong that his AFRC would shoot to death by firing squad in June 1979. He nursed so much ambition for political power and sought to be calculating in unleashing that wrath in any way possible. And the scale tilted in his favour. But he won’t let things run their cause and has sought to grand-stand as if without him, Ghana would vanish.
All that happened for him to rule Ghana for almost 20 years won’t be easily forgotten. Even out of power all these years, he won’t let the past belong to itself. He persistently rakes it to fight a cause that he lost but won’t accept.
He has consistently stuck to his guns to hit at his successors, the latest instance being his disparaging remarks that Kufuor is evil while Mahama is a rogue. What a load of nonsense from him!
We will settle on this outburst to suggest that Rawlings is struggling to come to terms with reality. And he is suffering too.
First is the timing of his pejoration. No one in his right frame of mind will burst out of the blues this way.
Second, the occasion didn’t warrant such an outburst. It was one that demanded disciplined behaviour because the delegation that he spoke to visited him to formally inform him about the death and funeral arrangements for Mama Awusi Sreku II of Mepe and to invite him to participate in the events.
(Mama Sreku was my aunt, anyway. And Rawlings had interacted with her on many occasions when he visited Mepe, my hometown, in those days).
Why would Rawlings choose to openly insult Kufuor and Mahama on the occasion as if they had anything to do with the deceased? For no other reason than to prove his hatred for them? Why the hatred, anyway?
The bad-blood relationship between Kufuor and Rawlings is well known; but nothing warranted Rawlings’ vituperation.
Let me cut everything short to say that Kufuor may be anything else but not EVIL, at least, in the sense that Rawlings painted him. What about him qualifies him as evil may be known to Rawlings alone.
In truth, I was a strong critic of Kufuor when he was in power, and I wrote a lot to damn him on the basis of politics. Apparently, I was guided in doing so by my strong revulsion against anything Danquah-Busia. I don’t regret for doing so. Thus, Kufuor may come across in this case as an unfortunate victim of my political considerations. He is no evil person to me and all those who know and admire him as the “Gentle Giant”. Everything else about him is noble and worth commending.
In criticizing Kufuor, some of us even took on his wife (Theresa) to damn. It was all part of the political game. In the end, we have no doubt in our minds that Theresa is a good example of the refined “First Lady” that Ghana has had and needs to prove to the world that she is behind her husband’s success in politics. Unassuming, self-effacing, and nurturing, she played her part and receded to the background when Kufuor left office. She never stepped on anybody’s toes in exercising whatever power her designation might have conferred on her; and she hasn’t manouevred to return to the limelight.
Not so for Rawlings’ wife (Nana Konadu) who is fast outpacing her husband in political mischief. My head hurts at this point. Nothing more on this Lady Macbeth called nana Konadu who, just like her husband, is filled with an inextinguishable hatred for all those her husband hates, even as she turns her eyes on others of her own choice.
Whatever might have created the bad-blood relationship between him and Rawlings has defied solution, even though Kufuor has taken absolute control of himself and behaved in the public sphere in a dignified and resolute manner as a former President. He commands respect as such.
Viewed against Rawlings, he emerges as an angel to be commended. He has invested his time and resources in projects to set his image and memory in stone.
What is Rawlings doing as such? Nothing but a persistent campaign of dirty politics all over the place. A campaign that is fast eroding whatever is left of his integrity. Too bad.
Putting everything together, let me remind Rawlings that he is not immutable. With the passing of time, he is walking toward the end of his sojourn on earth as he ages. Deceiving himself that he can return to pick up the pieces and seeing anybody like Kufuor or Mahama as a bull to gore out of the way won’t help him.
The more his bitter heart eats him, the nearer he approaches that moment of accountability. He had better shape up.
On a larger scale, Rawlings must be told that despicable utterances of this sort from him annoy Ghanaians and turn them against the NDC, which they see as his baby.
Unofficial polling of opinions suggests that most of those who “hate” the NDC base their stance on the Rawlings factor. It is clear, then, that Rawlings repels such people. When Rawlings turns round to complain of the waning support base of the NDC, does he (not to bring in his wife) ever pause to question his own negative influence as a factor? More disturbing concerns, folks.
My final niggle: Will Rawlings attend Kufuor’s funeral (assuming that God calls him before he does Rawlings)? I have no doubt that Kufuor will definitely be at Rawlings’ funeral.
These two former Presidents are members of the Catholic Church, let’s not forget.
All in all, Rawlings emerges as weird. The earlier he comes to terms with the reality that he can’t change, the better chances are that he will learn to be temperate and rid his heart of the bitterness that it pumps into his system to kill him.